An Egyptian court that sentenced to death 37 Islamists and handed life terms to 492 others has defended its verdict, saying the men were "demons" who followed Jewish scripture.
The court in the central city of Minya triggered international outrage this year for sentencing to death hundreds of alleged supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohammed Mursi in two separate mass trials which lasted only minutes.
In one trial in March, 529 were sentenced to death for killing a police officer. But the court later upheld the sentencing against only 37 of them, while the rest were jailed for life.
In a statement on Sunday to justify its decision, the court said: "The accused came out of the depths of hell … to plunder Egypt's wealth, tyrannise its people and they killed the deputy commissioner."
It described the men as "enemies of the nation" who used mosques to promote the teachings of "their holy book, the Talmud", the central scripture of Judaism.